20th May 2019

Hungarian citizenship referendum fails due to low turnout

A controversial referendum on whether to allow millions of ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries to get Hungarian citizenship appears to have failed due to low voter turnout.

According to the Hungarian National Referendum Office, the turnout was only about 38 percent, which is not enough for making the result binding.

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  • The Hungarian opposition hoped to reunite the country, which lost two-thirds of its territory after World War I (Photo: European Commission)

However, 52 percent of those who took part in the referendum voted in favour of granting dual citizenship.

The outcome is seen as a major victory to the Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, whose government was campaigning against giving passports to ethnic Hungarians living abroad.

The opposition argued that a positive result would have helped to reunite the nation, without changing the borders.

Hungary lost as much as two-thirds of its territory when the borders were redrawn after World War I.

About five million ethnic Hungarians are living in neighbouring countries such as Romania, Ukraine, Croatia and Serbia.

Hungarian passports would have helped ethnic Hungarians enter the country much more easily. Also, since most of them live in countries which are not yet part of the EU, a new passport would have made it easier for them to travel or find jobs in other EU member states.

At the same time, Hungarians also voted on another issue, whether health services should remain in state hands. This vote also failed due to low turnout.

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